Monday, October 14, 2019

Pagan Pope? Pagan Vatican Ceremony? Pachamama?

A tree planting ceremony that took place on the feast day of seraphic holy father St. Francis of Assisi, October 4 has taken the Catholic blogosphere by storm. It has angered so-called traditionalists and has even brought great concern to mainstream Catholics, most who hardly complain about Pope Francis.

The ceremony took place at the Vatican garden and entailed a Amazonian indigenous rite that was borderline, if not, totally pagan in nature. It had people dressed in indigenous costume, dancing around in a circle, two nude wooden images of pregnant women, bowls of offerings of fruit and other items. Pope Francis and other clergy were present, but did not participate in the rite. You can see the rite here:

Now the rite is not liturgical and is just symbolic from what I see and read, however, one can see why many Catholics are concerned. Why is this happening? Why at the Vatican? Why before the pope? Well, the Amazon synod was just around the corner and this ceremony was a precursor leading up to the synod.

Catholics online have showed concern mainly over the nude pregnant figures at the center of the rite. There is great confusion as to who they are. At first, there was word that the main figure was Our Lady of the Amazon. Then word was going around that it was "Mother Earth" or "Pachamama." There was even a debate on Twitter between @CatholicSat and @Where_Peter_Is regarding this with the former recanting stating that the statue was in fact, Our Lady of Amazon:

As you can see, a close examination of the video does show that the figure is given to the pope and introduced as Our Lady of the Amazon, "bride of the Church." The latter does not make sense. The Church has no bride. She IS the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5)! The confusion still remains. Did the person who said this misspeak? Moreover, who is the other nude and pregnant female figure? Is it Elizabeth or another variation of Our Lady of the Amazon? It i "Pachamama" alongside Our Lady of the Amazon? I still have not found clear and solid answers, so I will not speculate. Blogger Pedro Gabriel of Where Peter Is wrote a well detailed blog post here: explaining all of the news surrounding the image. However, a new report came out which he has not addressed.

At a Amazon Synod presser, Fr. Giacomo Costa SJ said of the statue, "It is an indigenous woman who brings life... nobody said it was the Virgin Mary..It is not the Virgin Mary, who said it is the Virgin Mary?" Paolo Ruffini, prefect of Vatican communications said, "There is nothing to know. It is an indigenous woman who represents life, it is a feminine figure, neither pagan nor sacred. Fundamentally, it represents life. And enough. I believe to try and see pagan symbols or to see... evil, it is not,” he said, adding that “it represents life through a woman."

So there you have it. We went from Pagan fertile woman figure, to Virgin Mary, to Pachamama, to Our Lady of the Amazon, to Mother Earth, to now just a random woman that represents life that is neither pagan nor sacred. This whole this is confusing to say the least! I will update this post if anything new comes along!  At first, this whole story seemed to be a culture war thing border-lining on xenophobia where white Catholicism is seen as being superior to brown Catholicism, but on closer look, there is a serious concern here.  Until we know what this figure is, we must continue to question.  On another note, some have posted images of the pope standing before the Blessed Sacrament alongside an image of participants bowing before the image of the pregnant woman. The posts insinuate that the pope stands before the Blessed Sacrament but bows before an image of a pregnant woman. This is fake news.  As you can see in the video of the ceremony, the pope never participated in the ritual. He sat to the side. Only a Franciscan friar of the Order of Friars Minor is seen bowing. This ritual was planned by the Order of Friars Minor, not the Vatican.

UPDATE: 10/26/19
Pope Francis has officially called the figure "Pachamama," see:

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